How to get more free time, family time, and me time

Do you really know how you spend your time?  Most of us have a calendar of some sort, but, if you’re like most people, your calendar contains meetings, work shifts, and other scheduled obligations and then there’s just a bunch of empty space.  In your mind, that empty space is all the time that you have for “everything else.”  How do you actually spend that time?  How would you like to spend your time?  If those two questions don’t give you the same answer, keep reading.

The first thing we need here is data.  Like any experiment, we can’t know if we need to change things up unless we have a baseline.  So I’m going to ask you to track how you spend every moment of your day for the next 24 hours.  It doesn’t matter how you do this, but you don’t want to miss a minute. It might look something like this:

This would be a typical start of one of my days off.

9:00 am            Wake Up (I work nights.  I’m not a morning person.)

9:00-9:45 am  Computer time, responded to emails, read news, scrolled Facebook, Drank coffee

9:45-10:15 am  Drove to the barn

10:15-11:15 am  Rode and cared for my horse

11:15-11:45 am  Drove home

11:45-12:30 pm Showered and got ready

12:30-12:45 pm Scrolled social media

12:45-1:30 pm   Made and ate lunch

You get the idea.  Be sure that you do this for 24 hours so you can know how much time you’re sleeping as well.  You can either start or end your 24-hour tracking session with sleep, but it should definitely be included.  I often have clients concerned with how tired they are, but, almost universally, they have no real idea how much time they are actually devoting to sleep.  Do this for at least 24 hours, and if, like me, you have vastly different schedules from day to day, do it for several different days.

Next, I want you to make a list of your Top 10 Time Priorities – things you want to be doing.  Try to be realistic here.  If you don’t have another way to pay the bills, work should be on this list, but most people will find that it’s not #1.  If you have more or less than 10, don’t sweat it.  The idea here is to get a picture of how you’d like to be spending your time.

Now look at the list you just created and look at your 24-hour tracking session.  How do they compare?  What percentage of your day is devoted to your #1 priority?  What percentage of your day is devoted to things that didn’t even make your list (driving around? scrolling social media?). This is not an activity designed so you can beat yourself up.  This data produces knowledge which, in turn, gives you power.  It gives you the opportunity to make a change.  If you’d like to know more about how to make your schedule match your priorities, we’d love to help you.